The Dark Knight Rises ★★★

There will be no spoilers in this review, but do expect them in the comment section because there will probably be some discussion on the film.

Now, let me get to the negative stuff first because I'd rather end this review on a positive note.

The film is very sloppily written, by anyone's standards. The first half of the film is where the writing suffers the most. Characters move and around and talk a lot, but aside from Bane doing a few things, almost nothing happens. This ultimately hurts the film, and if it had some tighter plotting, the film WOULD be great and deserving of the 4 stars I'd love to give it.

This first act suffers from what I call the "Spider-Man 3" syndrome. We have many things being introduced, but none of it really matters, and most if not all of it disappears by the time the second half of the film starts, which is a problem. It hurts the pacing, and confuses you do some of the illogical nature of the plotting going on more than it does excite you, which is what ultimately hurts the film.

And even once that second half of the film comes in, where there are some fantastic scenes and moments, there are multiple illogical moments in it, and I lost count of how many plot holes were going on. Sure, I may have missed the explanation of some, but there are others that definitely aren't excused by this. Come on, Chris. You had all the time in the world to write this. At least tell me most of the stupid shit was your brother.

Also, this is easily Zimmer's worst score as of yet, but I blame the sound design team for putting it in the absolute worst places possible, and having it overbear scenes that are better left quiet. Thankfully, one scene is near silent, and it helps the film. The rest of the film should have learned.

But, the film is not without positive notes, and to restore the faith for some people, I'll end this review with those notes.

Nolan's screenplay may lack focus and clarity, but the film more than makes up for that in grandeur and spectacle, something he has always succeeded in, but here is brought to perfection. Gotham manages to feel even more like a living breathing city here. There's a magnificent moment in the film's second half where Bane enacts his master plan, and it's a gorgeous use of the film's 250 million dollar budget.

Nolan has also finally learned how to truly shoot an action film. There's an astounding amount of clarity to the fight scenes that weren't in Begins and TDK. There is no more shaky cam. We now get to see the fights in full. Batman's ninja skills do indeed look awesome. Oh, and Batman's fights with Bane? I couldn't ask for anything better in their fights. I now have no problem with Nolan being at the helm of a Bond movie, since now his action has such a staggering amount of clarity and spectacle, he'd be able to pull off some truly great set pieces in the film.

Nolan has also finally learned how not to make his characters cold and unemotional. I'm guessing that's why everything else doesn't make sense. Still, characters here get some real characterization and their motivations are mostly sound. They're not spectacular, but they work, and it's mainly due to the fantastic performances from everyone.

Christian Bale is at the top of his Batman game here. He spends most of the movie as Bruce Wayne, because this is ultimately about HIS struggle. In the beginning of the film, he is depicted as a hermit, and everything from his walk to his mannerisms are completely logical with how such a character would follow. When the second half of the film comes, Bale is even better with his conviction.

Tom Hardy's Bane is also a fierce physical performance. He may be speaking, but he says everything through the way he moves and his eyes are key to communicating his feelings. His casting came through, and Bane feels like a true physical match for Batman, both in mind and body. Man, Tom Hardy is an incredible actor.

Most of you will also be glad to know that Anne Hathaway's Catwoman (well, Selina Kyle) is actually fantastic, and she almost steals the show. She's smart, sexy, and dangerous. She almost steals every scene she's in.

The supporting cast is great too. Barely a weak link among the group. Gordon Levitt is great as a cop with conviction that just wants to help, Oldman is still the great chameleon in his role as Commissioner Gordon, Caine plays a great broken down Alfred (even if he disappears for most of the film), and there are some other great supporting roles, some I won't discuss in this spoiler free review.

If my conversation with friends afterwards is any indication, the ending will be a hot moment of debate. Some will find it silly. Some will love it. Others will hate it (One friend, a previous fanboy, was crying to bring back Keaton, so take that as you will). I for the most part enjoyed it, and felt it to be a satisfying conclusion (even if some of it didn't make sense).

Ultimately, despite the film's many many flaws, I managed to enjoy myself. I should have enjoyed myself more, but I didn't. Still, it wasn't a waste of 3 hours and 17 dollars. If there's something I do like about Nolan, it is that he makes what I call "Event Films." Films that are larger than life and are there to take your troubles away for the duration of the film, and he does this well in my opinion. His sense of spectacle and grandeur is currently unmatched right now, and here it's at the top of his game, even though the writing is very lacking.

There's a quote from EW where Nolan says something along the lines of "I don't make films to win awards, I do them to entertain the audience." If the reaction after the film was over is any indication, then he succeeded despite the failings I felt the film had, and I guess this is ultimately the goal for him and the audience. It just could have been so much more.

Mary Conti liked these reviews